A Tribute to Jean Anil Louis-Juste
By Yves Pierre-Louis

Professor Jean Anil Louis-Juste inspired his students and other progressives working for social change in Haiti
On the question of land and peasants in Haiti, in another text he wrote on April 30, 2002 entitled “Community Development Projects and Democracy in Peasant Organizations,” Anil wrote: “Peasants face a crisis in working the land, and it makes us ask the question about how the peasants reproduce their labor force and their household. The big landowners (grandon) take their land, drain all the peasants’ wealth into the cities, and then stab them in the back. The exchange made on the international market becomes worse daily to the peasants’ disadvantage. They killed the Haitian Creole pig which was the only form of saving peasants had used for a long time. All this shows the problems peasants face in trying to reproduce themselves. It is hard for us to say who or what has become the principal cause because they all have an infl uence on the peasant’s conduct and an effect on the environment. In the 1920s, we had 20% of the country covered with forest. In the 1990s,we had less than 2%. We are about 60% short of the land we would need to live in equilibrium with the environment. In any case, the peasant’s labor does not allow him to reproduce his household any more; it is development work with brings in a little something.”

Several professors, students, peasant representatives, and work comrades, both Haitian and foreign, spoke at the memorial service about who Anil was. Members of ASID, GREPS, the Gramsci Circle, and other organizations spoke about the memory of this great fi ghter. One of Anil’s collaborators in the Department of Social Work told how Anil did courses and workshops on memory, social communication, social policy, methodology on the intervention of social work, and work courses for social groups. He gave all his time to train his students. He used to participate in all the activities that the Social Work Department would do, helping the students with their research and social work in several parts of the country including Archaie, Cabaret, the Artibonite, and the Southeast.

For the sociology students at the Ethnology School, Seide Gardy (Kamileyon) wrote this about Anil’s death: “Anil was an important leader in the movement for the 200 gourdes [or $5 minimum daily wage] waged in the university and the the battle for reform at the Medical School. He wanted to see real change at the University, an end to the formless and toothless reforms. He wanted the University not to be a collection of little kingdoms, all small minded. In his courses, he always showed that society should be based on social equality and have good living conditions for people in the poor neighborhoods, for peasants and people working in factories. With Anil, the University battle became very hot. He even wanted to become Rector to see if he could change the system. He didn’t have little reactionary projects, little shorts full of pockets. He wanted change in capital letters. He worked for that. He was not someone who looked to be a star in the press. For him, a good revolutionary does not need to publicize himself.”

For that reason, the Ethnology School’s administration took away his courses on the pretext that he was brainwashing his students. The administration saw him as trouble. Because of the type of person he was, many plots were hatched in the State to eliminate him from the University. The presence of Anil threatened many. One sector, the so-called civil society (really the bourgeoisie) threatened him after he and a band of students entered a march to protect the environment on the Champ de Mars last year. They chanted: “There can be no protected environmnet if the lives of people are not also protected, thus, there has to be a 200 gourdes minimum salary.”

Several other professors, students, collaborators and comrades spoke about how Anil had collaborated with them at the School. Yves Marie, a representative of the peasants of Cabaret, told about his collaboration with Anil. The professor had addressed the problems the peasants face each day with the big landowners, which involve keeping and working their land. The peasants’ struggle is concrete and vital because it involves their real-life struggles. Meanwhile, the University students face more of an ideological struggle, a philosophical struggle, a struggle of ideas. It is a battle to establish the conditions for a socialist revolution in Haiti. That was the main objective of Professor Jean Anil Louis-Juste during his life under Haiti’s sun.

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Haïti Liberté  Vol. 3 No. 34 • Du 10 au 16 mars 2010